Evidence of His Love

“But the dove found no rest for or the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him…And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf” (Gen. 8:9-11).

God knows just when to withhold from us any visible sign of encouragement, and when to grant us such a sign. How good it is that we may trust Him anyway! When all visible evidences that He is remembering us are withheld, that is best; He wants us to realize that His Word, His promise of remembrance, is more substantial and dependable
than any evidence of our senses. When He sends the visible evidence, that is well also; we appreciate it all the more after we have trusted Him without it. Those who are readiest to trust God without other evidence than His Word always receive the greatest number of visible evidences of His love.  –C. G. Trumbull

“Believing Him; if storm-clouds gather darkly ’round,
And even if the heaven seem brass, without a sound?
He hears each prayer and even notes the sparrow’s fall.

“And praising Him; when sorrow, grief, and pain are near,
And even when we lose the thing that seems most dear?
Our loss is gain. Praise Him; in Him we have our All.

“Our hand in His; e’en though the path seems long and drear
We scarcely see a step ahead, and almost fear?
He guides aright. He has it thus to keep us near.

“And satisfied; when every path is blocked and bare,
And worldly things are gone and dead which were so fair?
Believe and rest and trust in Him, He comes to stay.”

Delays are not refusals; many a prayer is registered, and underneath it the words: “My time is not yet come.” God has a set time as well as a set purpose, and He who orders the bounds of our habitation orders also the time of our deliverance.  –Selected

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)

Unanswered?

“Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily” (Luke 18:6, 7).

God’s seasons are not at your beck. If the first stroke of the flint doth not bring forth the fire, you must strike again. God will hear prayer, but He may not answer it at the time which we in our minds have appointed; He will reveal Himself to our seeking hearts, but not just when and where we have settled in our own expectations. Hence the need of perseverance and importunity in supplication.
 
In the days of flint and steel and brimstone matches we had to strike and strike again, dozens of times, before we could get a spark to live in the tinder; and we were thankful enough if we succeeded at last.

Shall we not be as persevering and hopeful as to heavenly things? We have more certainty of success in this business than we had with our flint and steel, for we have God’s promises at our back.

Never let us despair. God’s time for mercy will come; yea, it has come, if our time for believing has arrived. Ask in faith nothing wavering; but never cease from petitioning because the King delays to reply. Strike the steel again. Make the sparks fly and have your tinder ready; you will get a light before long. –C. H. Spurgeon

I do not believe that there is such a thing in the history of God’s kingdom as a right prayer offered in a right spirit that is forever left unanswered. –Theodore L. Cuyler

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert) 

Waiting is Hard

“When the cloud tarried . . . then the children of Israel . . . journeyed not” (Num. 9:19).

This was the supreme test of obedience. It was comparatively easy to strike tents, when the fleecy folds of the cloud were slowly gathering from off the Tabernacle, and it floated majestically before the host. Change is always delightful; and there was excitement and interest in the route, the scenery, and the locality of the next halting-place. But, ah, the tarrying.

Then, however uninviting and sultry the location, however trying to flesh and blood, however irksome to the impatient disposition, however perilously exposed to danger–there was no option but to remain encamped.

The Psalmist says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.” And what He did for the Old Testament saints He will do for believers throughout all ages.

Still God often keeps us waiting. Face to face with threatening foes, in the midst of alarms, encircled by perils, beneath the impending rock. May we not go? Is it not time to strike our tents? Have we not suffered to the point of utter collapse? May we not exchange the glare and heat for green pastures and still waters?

There is no answer. The cloud tarries, and we must remain, though sure of manna, rock-water, shelter, and defense. God never keeps us at post without assuring us of His presence, and sending us daily supplies.

Wait, young man, do not be in a hurry to make a change! Minister, remain at your post! Until the cloud clearly moves, you must tarry. Wait, then, thy Lord’s good pleasure! He will be in plenty of time!–Daily Devotional Commentary

An hour of waiting!
Yet there seems such need
To reach that spot sublime!
I long to reach them–but I long far more
To trust HIS time!

“Sit still, my daughter”–
Yet the heathen die,
They perish while I stay!
I long to reach them–but I long far more
To trust HIS way!

‘Tis good to get,
‘Tis good indeed to give!
Yet is it better still–
O’er breadth, thro’ length, down length, up height,
To trust HIS will! –F. M. N.

(From Charles E Cowman Devotional – Streams in the Desert) 

Delayed

“Know of a surety that thy seed shall be sojourners in a land that is not theirs; . . . they shall afflict them four hundred years; . . . and afterward they shall come out with great substance” (Gen. 15:12-14).

An assured part of God’s pledged blessing to us is delay and suffering. A delay in Abram’s own lifetime that seemed to put God’s pledge beyond fulfillment was followed by seemingly unendurable delay of Abram’s descendants. But it was only a delay: they “came out with great substance.” The pledge was redeemed.

God is going to test me with delays; and with the delays will come suffering, but through it all stands God’s pledge: His new covenant with me in Christ, and His inviolable promise of every lesser blessing that I need. The delay and the suffering are part of the promised blessing; let me praise Him for them today; and let me wait on the Lord and be of good courage and He will strengthen my heart. –C. G. Trumbull

Unanswered yet the prayer your lips have pleaded
In agony of heart these many years?
Does faith begin to fail? Is hope departing?
And think you all in vain those falling tears?
Say not the Father hath not heard your prayer;
You shall have your desire sometime, somewhere.

Unanswered yet? Nay do not say ungranted;
Perhaps your work is not yet wholly done.
The work began when first your prayer was uttered,
And God will finish what He has begun.
If you will keep the incense burning there,
His glory you shall see sometime, somewhere.

Unanswered yet? Faith cannot be unanswered,
Her feet are firmly planted on the Rock;
Amid the wildest storms she stands undaunted,
Nor quails before the loudest thunder shock.
She knows Omnipotence has heard her prayer,
And cries, “It shall be done”–sometime, somewhere.
–Miss Ophelia G. Browning

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)

Don’t Rush

“Who is among you that feareth Jehovah, that obeyeth the voice of his servant? He that walketh in darkness and hath no light, let him trust in the name of Jehovah and rely upon his God” (Isa. 50:10, RV).

What shall the believer do in times of darkness–the darkness of perplexity and confusion, not of heart but of mind? Times of darkness come to the faithful and believing disciple who is walking obediently in the will of God; seasons when he does not know what to do, nor which way to turn. The sky is overcast with clouds. The clear light of Heaven does not shine upon his pathway. One feels as if he were groping his way in darkness.

Beloved, is this you? What shall the believer do in times of darkness? Listen! “Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and rely upon his God.”

The first thing to do is do nothing. This is hard for poor human nature to do. In the West there is a saying that runs thus, “When you’re rattled, don’t rush”; in other words, “When you don’t know what to do, don’t do it.”

When you run into a spiritual fog bank, don’t tear ahead; slow down the machinery of your life. If necessary, anchor your bark or let it swing at its moorings. We are to simply trust God. While we trust, God can work. Worry prevents Him from doing anything for us. If our minds are distracted and our hearts distressed; if the darkness that overshadows us strikes terror to us; if we run hither and yon in a vain effort to find some way of escape out of a dark place of trial, where Divine providence has put us, the Lord can do nothing for us.

The peace of God must quiet our minds and rest our hearts. We must put our hand in the hand of God like a little child, and let Him lead us out into the bright sunshine of His love.
 
He knows the way out of the woods. Let us climb up into His arms, and trust Him to take us out by the shortest and surest road.–Dr. Pardington

Remember we are never without a pilot when we know not how to steer.

“Hold on, my heart, in thy believing–
The steadfast only wins the crown;
He who, when stormy winds are heaving,
Parts with its anchor, shall go down;
But he who Jesus holds through all,
Shall stand, though Heaven and earth should fall.

“Hold out! There comes an end to sorrow;
Hope from the dust shall conquering rise;
The storm foretells a summer’s morrow;
The Cross points on to Paradise;
The Father reigneth! cease all doubt;
Hold on, my heart, hold on, hold out.”

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert) 

Listening Hard for God

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 19 :18).

Waiting upon God is necessary in order to see Him, to have a vision of Him. The time element in vision is essential. Our hearts are like a sensitive photographer’s plate; and in order to have God revealed there, we must sit at His feet a long time. The troubled surface of a lake will not reflect an object.
 
Our lives must be quiet and restful if we would see God. There is power in the sight of some things to affect one’s life. A quiet sunset will bring peace to a troubled heart. Thus the vision of God always transforms human life.

Jacob saw God at Jabbok’s ford, and became Israel. The vision of God transformed Gideon from a coward into a valiant soldier. The vision of Christ changed Thomas from a doubting follower into a loyal, devout disciple.

But men have had visions of God since Bible times. William Carey saw God, and left his shoemaker’s bench and went to India. David Livingstone saw God, and left all to follow Him through the jungles of dark Africa. Scores and hundreds have had visions of God, and are today in the uttermost parts of the earth working for the speedy evangelization of the heathen. –Dr. Pardington

There is hardly ever a complete silence in the soul. God is whispering to us well-nigh incessantly. Whenever the sounds of the world die out in the soul, or sink low, then we hear the whisperings of God. He is always whispering to us, only we do not hear, because of the noise, hurry, and distraction which life causes as it rushes on. –F. W. Faber

“Speak, Lord, in the stillness,
While I wait on Thee;
Hushed my heart to listen
In expectancy.

“Speak, O blessed Master,
In this quiet hour;
Let me see Thy face, Lord,
Feet Thy touch of power.

“For the words Thou speakest,
‘They are life,’ indeed;
Living bread from Heaven,
Now my spirit feed!

“Speak, Thy servant heareth!
Be not silent, Lord;
Waits my soul upon Thee
For the quickening word!”

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert) 

God is Waiting Upon Us

“And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you…blessed are all they that wait for him” (Isa. 30:18).

We must not only think of our waiting upon God, but also of what is more wonderful still, of God’s waiting upon us.  The vision of Him waiting on us, will give new impulse and inspiration to our waiting upon Him.  It will give us unspeakable confidence that our waiting cannot be in vain.  Let us seek even now, at this moment, in the spirit of waiting on God, to find out something of what it means.  He has inconceivably glorious purposes concerning every one of His children.  And you ask, “How is it, if He waits to be gracious, that even after I come and wait upon Him, He does not give the. help I seek, but waits on longer and longer?”

God is a wise husbandman, “who waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it.”  He cannot gather the fruit till it is ripe.  He knows when we are spiritually ready to receive the blessing to our profit and His glory.  Waiting in the sunshine of His love is what will ripen the soul for His blessing.  Waiting under the cloud of trial, that breaks in showers of blessings, is as needful.  Be assured that if God waits longer than you could wish, it is only to make the blessing doubly precious.  God waited four thousand years, till the fullness of time, ere He sent His Son.  Our times are in His hands; He will avenge His elect speedily; He will make haste for our help, and not delay one hour too long. –Andrew Murray

God is Not Unobservant

“I will be still, and I will behold in my dwelling place” (Isa. 18:4, RV).

Assyria was marching against Ethiopia, the people of which are described as tall and smooth.  And as the armies advance, God makes no effort to arrest them; it seems as though they will be allowed to work their will.  He is still watching them from His dwelling place, the sun still shines on them; but before the harvest, the whole of the proud army of Assyria is smitten as easily as when sprigs are cut off by the pruning hook of the husbandman. 

Is not this a marvelous conception of God–being still and watching?  His stillness is not acquiescence.  His silence is not consent.  He is only biding His time, and will arise, in the most opportune moment, and when the designs of the wicked seem on the point of success, to overwhelm them with disaster. As we look out on the evil of the world; as we think of the apparent success of wrong-doing; as we wince beneath the oppression of those that hate us, let us remember these marvelous words about God being still and beholding.

There is another side to this.  Jesus beheld His disciples toiling at the oars through the stormy night; and watched though unseen, the successive steps of the anguish of Bethany, when Lazarus slowly passed through the stages of mortal sickness, until he succumbed and was borne to the rocky tomb.  But He was only waiting the moment when He could interpose most effectually.  Is He still to thee?  He is not unobservant; He is beholding all things; He has His finger on thy pulse, keenly sensitive to all its fluctuations.  He will come to save thee when the precise moment has arrived. –Daily Devotional Commentary

Whatever His questions or His reticences, we may be absolutely sure of an unperplexed and undismayed Saviour.

“O troubled soul, beneath the rod,
Thy Father speaks, be still, be still;
Learn to be silent unto God,
And let Him mould thee to His will.

“O praying soul, be still, be still,
He cannot break His plighted Word;
Sink down into His blessed will,
And wait in patience on the Lord.

“O waiting soul, be still, be strong,
And though He tarry, trust and wait;
Doubt not, He will not wait too long,
Fear not, He will not come too late.”

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)

Elijah Watched and Waited

“It came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land” (1 Kings 17:7).

Week after week, with unfaltering and steadfast spirit, Elijah watched that dwindling brook; often tempted to stagger through unbelief, but refusing to allow his circumstances to come between himself and God.  Unbelief sees God through circumstances, as we sometimes see the sun shorn of his rays through smoky air; but faith puts God between itself and circumstances, and looks at them through Him.  And so the dwindling brook became a silver thread; and the silver thread stood presently in pools at the foot of the largest boulders; and the pools shrank.  The birds fled; the wild creatures of field and forest came no more to drink; the brook was dry.  Only then to his patient and unwavering spirit, “the word of the Lord came, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath.”  Most of us would have gotten anxious and worn with planning long before that. We should have ceased our songs as soon as the streamlet caroled less musically over its rocky bed; and with harps swinging on the willows, we should have paced to and fro upon the withering grass, lost in pensive thought.  And probably, long ere the brook was dry, we should have devised some plan, and asking God’s blessing on it, would have started off elsewhere.

God often does extricate us, because His mercy endureth forever; but if we had only waited first to see the unfolding of His plans, we should never have found ourselves landed in such an inextricable labyrinth; and we should never have been compelled to retrace our steps with so many tears of shame. Wait, patiently wait! –F. B. Meyer 1

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)

Keep Your Hands Off

“Neither know we what to do; but our eyes are, upon thee” (2 Chron. 20:12).

A life was lost in Israel because a pair of human hands were laid unbidden upon the ark of God.  They were placed upon it with the best intent, to steady it when trembling and shaking as the oxen drew it along the rough way; but they touched God’s work presumptuously, and they fell paralyzed and lifeless.  Much of the life of faith consists in letting things alone.

If we wholly trust an interest to God, we must keep our hands off it; and He will guard it for us better than we can help Him.  “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.”

Things may seem to be going all wrong, but He knows as well as we; and He will arise in the right moment if we are really trusting Him so fully as to let Him work in His own way and time.  There is nothing so masterly as inactivity in some things, and there is nothing so hurtful as restless working, for God has undertaken to work His sovereign will. –A. B. Simpson.

“Being perplexed, I say, ‘Lord, make it right!
Night is as day to Thee,
Darkness as light.
I am afraid to touch Things that involve so much;
My trembling hand may shake,
My skilless hand may break;
Thine can make no mistake.’

“Being in doubt I say,
‘Lord, make it plain;
Which is the true, safe way?
Which would be gain?
I am not wise to know,
Nor sure of foot to go;
What is so clear to Thee, Lord, make it clear to me!'”

It is such a comfort to drop the tangles of life into God’s hands and leave them there.

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)